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Climbing 1 Piolet + 1 Tool: Attachment Systems


sportnoob
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My preferred approach for climbing steeper snow climbs is often to carry 1 piolet style tool (e.g. BD Venom) and 1 technical tool (Cobra). This is especially my preferred approach on volcanoes where I don't anticipate steep water ice, as I like the slightly longer piolet for roped glacier travel.

 

How are folks who climb with this combination of tools attaching themselves to said tools in the modern age of tethers?

 

So back in the day I would have one wrist-leash on each of these objects. It's nearly unambiguous now that the preferred method with modern leashless tools is tethers.

 

But... I can't decide what I think is my preferred system for the "1 too, 1 axe" method. I've fashioned a single homemade tether to go on my Cobra, and still use the old-school leash (made of perlon cord) on my piolet. It's kind of annoying to me, the asymmetry.

 

I don't generally trust myself to use the piolet without an attachment.

 

I'm curious what others are doing who climb with one of each type of tool. Besides overthink the issue (as I am here).

Edited by sportnoob
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I've been doing the one piolet, one tool thing for a long time now. I have a 'old school' hammer (straight shafted BD carbon fiber Black Prophet) with a traditional leash that I bought specifically to go with my piolet, which also has a leash. FWIW, I have made two unsuccessful attempts at going leashless (BD Vipers, Petzl Quarks), so I am kind of addicted to my old man leashes. Buying a pair of Grivel Tech Machines though, so maybe the third time will be the charm.

 

Edited by DPS
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I find in those sorts of situations I'm using the piolet 90% of the time and the tool+piolet much less, so I use a wrist leash for each. If I expect to have any benefit from a leashless ice tool setup, I'm probably carrying both tools and using tethers anyways.

 

I guess you could also use tethers on both like you would with your leashless tools, but that seems more awkward with a piolet to me.

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I find in those sorts of situations I'm using the piolet 90% of the time and the tool+piolet much less, so I use a wrist leash for each. If I expect to have any benefit from a leashless ice tool setup, I'm probably carrying both tools and using tethers anyways.

 

I guess you could also use tethers on both like you would with your leashless tools, but that seems more awkward with a piolet to me.

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I realize that your ice tool is expensive but there has to be serious consideration about do you want a tether system if you do not have control of the tool.

 

the way I see it, for most alpine situations you have 4 situations in which you lose control of the ice tool:

1. you drop the tool but it lands in snow and slides very little and easy to pick back up. tether not needed

 

2. you are in a self arrest situation. you are probably using your mtn axe to self arrest so that ice tool is not being used. a tethered tool may be swinging around and become a serious danger. tethered becomes a hazard.

 

3. you are in a self arrest situation. you dropped your mtn axe and using the ice tool to self arrest. If you lose control of that ice tool while trying to self arrest, once again you have a potential sharp instrument to impale yourself against. tethered becomes a hazard. best to lose the tool and use a hands/feet self arrest.

 

4. You are climbing some steep terrain and you drop a tool. I think this is unlikely and does not provide enough justification to subject yourself to situation 2 or 3. How often have you dropped a tool while ice climbing?

 

I realize that most people have a impression that things like this will never happen. (need to self arrest) But why do people assume that they will not fall but assume they will drop tools on a regular basis and therefore need tethers?

 

My thoughts on leashes in alpine are the same as tethers. I am very against any form of connection between sharp instruments and my body. (can't do anything about crampons) I have seen way too many self arrest failures in a practice environment where a leashed (or tethered tool) could have posed a serious threat. In every case of self arrest failure, that tool went flying away and the person slid to the bottom. And these people knew what was coming. Imagine a real life, unexpected and fatigued scenario. please don't dismiss the hazard.

 

 

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Good points Gene. This one time I was descending off of a winter ascent. We had rapped into a gulley and were down climbing with two tools. I had rapped second so I pulled, coiled, and stashed the rope. My partner was at the bottom encouraging me to hurry because he was cold. So, while down climbing with two tools, I hurried and as a result slipped and started sliding, my two leashed ice tools (an REI/SMC 60 cm axe and a SMC Himalayan Hammer) proceeded to beat the shit out of me until I got one under control and was able to self arrest.

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